We’ve all been there. We’ve packed our bags, boarded our flight, arrived at our destination and sat at the baggage carousel for hours on end only to find our bags have either been left behind or gone off on a solo jaunt around the world. If you’re one of the lucky ones whose bag has always reliably pitched up where it’s supposed to, undamaged and on time, trust us - your days are numbered. 

Lost and damaged luggage is part and parcel of traveling. In these sorts of situations, knowledge is power. As long as you’re well enough equipped to know both your next moves and your rights, missing or damaged baggage is just a small hiccup in the system. 

Damaged Luggage 

Step 1 - Immediate Inspection

As soon as you retrieve your bag from the baggage carousel or upon receiving it from the airline, inspect it thoroughly for any visible damage. Check for signs of broken locks, torn fabric, damaged zippers, or any other noticeable issues. It is crucial to identify and document the damage immediately to strengthen your claim as in most cases it’s not the luggage brand who is responsible for the damage but the airline or luggage handling company.

Step 2 - Take photos

Travel experts advise that travelers should always take pictures of their bags and its contents to show the initial travel state in case you have to lodge a complaint against the airline. 

Step 3 - Report the Damage

It is advisable to take your damaged baggage to baggage services immediately, though in some cases we know you will only notice dents, dings and cracks once you get home. In these cases you often have seven days to lodge a complaint with the baggage services department of your airline. '

Step 4 - Explore Compensation OptionsDifferent airlines have varying policies regarding baggage damage. Some may offer repair services or reimburse you for the cost of repair, while others may provide compensation for the loss of value or offer a replacement bag. In terms of compensation, airlines are limited to a max liability, meaning that for checked and unchecked bags, there is a maximum level of compensation you will be able to claim. For example, SAS’ liability is limited to 1,288 SDR (Special Drawing Rights = a currency exchange rate that may vary). Familiarize yourself with the specific compensation options available to you and negotiate accordingly. 

Step 5 - Contact Your Travel Insurance ProviderIf you have travel insurance that covers baggage damage, notify your insurance provider about the incident. Provide them with the necessary documentation, including the damage report and photographs, to initiate the claims process. Follow their instructions and provide any additional information they require.

Missing Luggage & what to do

If you arrive at your destination, but your bags don’t, try not to let it overwhelm you. Take five, have a breather and a coffee, then follow the below steps to make sure you can a) either be reunited or b) properly compensated. 

Step 1 - Report the claimAs soon as you realize your luggage is missing, head to the baggage services desk and put in a claim. Doing this at the airport will make things much easier than reaching out to customer service over the phone. Normally the luggage service at the airports have access to other systems than customer service over the phone.

Step 2 -  Start tracking itGet the tracking number for your bag and track your missing luggage on the provided link. In most cases this will be sufficient and you’ll have your luggage within a few days depending on how remote you’re staying or how fast you’re traveling to the next location.

*Pro tip*Place an Airtag, Tile or similar tracking device in your bag. That can help speed up the process and especially if your luggage gets lost for real.. 

How to get compensation

Step 1 - Contact airline
Once the steps above are done. Request a baggage-fee refund and inquire about the policies for incidental compensation (if you need toiletries and other items until your bag or refund arrives). 

Step 2 - Contact credit card issuer
When this is done do the same with the credit card company you booked the flight with. They normally compensate for this depending on who the provider is. The value normally increases with the time your luggage is gone. 

If the suitcase is lost for REAL

Step 1 - Report a “lost” claim
If it doesn’t show up at all within a week, your bag officially transitions from being delayed to ‘lost’. At that point you'll have to fill out another more specific form with details about the bag and its contents.

Step 2 - Get even more compensation
Once you’ve filled out the second form you can start enquiring about compensation for lost luggage. Both from the airline company and from your credit card company.. 

Airlines have to compensate you for both your belongings and the checked baggage fee so this can be somewhat reassuring even though they might not be able to compensate you for emotional value and stress. According to Reader’s Digest & the Department of Travel, the maximum compensation for domestic flights in the US is $3,800 while it’s around $1,780 for international flights. Airlines may decide to reimburse you for more than this, but they aren’t required to do so. These figures vary from country to country so make sure you do your research.

Pro tip 1:
If you don’t want to lose your luggage or want to try and speed up the reunion process, try using a contrasting luggage tag, colorful luggage, a tracker or something special/unique far up inside your bag. One of these or all of the four suggestions above together will increase the chances of your luggage being found. Think about finding a black bag without a luggage tag among 100s of other similar looking black bags with the description contains “flip flops and swim trunks”, that’s not an easy job.

Pro tip 2:
Remember to keep the receipts of anything you want to claim and be reimbursed for and when/if you’re eventually reunited with your luggage, check it’s not damaged. If it is damaged, you’ll have to go through the motions of another claim process.

So, there you have it. It’s not the sexiest journal piece we’ve ever written but we’re going to chalk this one down as educational and leave it at that. 

Safe travels! 

/ Team Db x 

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